Covid 19 is showing us the best and worst of humanity’s response to an emergency.

Many supermarket shelves were empty as I attempted my regular shop yesterday, with one man clutching his pack of apricot toilet paper to his bosom as he shopped, clearly concerned that he would lose it if he let go.

Looking for store cupboard food for the food bank, I found packs of tinned spaghetti and tinned tuna, so went to donate them as I left the shop.

The food bank boxes were full, a wonderful testament to all who are still thinking of others less fortunate, but a man with his back to me was taking the food out of the boxes and packing them into the bags filling his trolley.

I watched for a moment, then politely asked “Do you work for the food bank or are you just helping yourself?”

He swung round and showed me his volunteer badge, so I smiled, gave him the cans I was holding and said “Sorry, but I think it will come to that”.

“It already has,” he sadly replied, and began to tell me of such an incident.

Supermarkets are rightly rationing food and other necessities now, and many wonderful people are helping friends and neighbours, but this is an imperfect system, open to abuse.

If stockpiling continues, protecting the vulnerable in our society will require stronger measures, perhaps Government ration books as used in World War Two.

Coping with current challenges may feel enough, but it would be wise to keep one eye on the future.

Just as a few selfish and silly people have made the situation harder than it needed to be for us all in facing this pandemic, so it is in caring for our environment and tackling climate change over this coming decade.

Unbelievably, when so many people have just lost everything in the recent flooding, with COP26 approaching, when the UK should be taking the lead on measures to cut emissions to meet the targets we are currently missing, Grant Shapps, pilot turned Transport Secretary, is planning to overturn the 60 year old UK ban on skywriting and skytyping.

Skytyping uses a group of aircraft flying abreast in a line, emitting smoke from paraffin oil like a dot matrix printer.

Skywriting is one aircraft creating smoke trails in the sky, both are used to create advertising in our skies.

The Department for Transport insists this would have a “negligible overall impact’ on emissions, estimated to be three tonnes of carbon a year, on top of the 35 million tonnes already created by the UK aviation industry.

The messages would stay in the sky for about four minutes, the carbon created would stay there for thousands of years.

As the climate emergency worsens in the next few years and we are asked to cut back on holiday flights, I doubt anyone will be saying “I’d rather glimpse an advert written in the sky than go away on holiday.”

Just as we have to balance our financial budgets, and keep our economy working, so we must also manage our carbon budget to keep our world safe.

The Government has opened a public consultation to change aviation regulations to permit skywriting. Till March 29th we can email, or write to Anna Ostrowski, Department for Transport, General Aviation Division, 2/25 Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, SW1P 4DR. This is our opportunity to ask Grant Shapps to learn from Covid 19, that when we can see an emergency approaching, we prepare early, and thoroughly, putting plans and laws in place that will protect the kind and thoughtful majority from the selfish foolishness of the few.

We hope Covid 19 will pass in a few months.

We know the climate emergency will not pass, it can only be slowed.

This pandemic has showed us how selfless and altruistic many people can be, going out of their way to help others, but also how selfish and thoughtless a few are.

We will come through this emergency, and must use this experience to prepare ourselves for the future.